“Great historical fiction with great storytelling”
– Isham Nelson
“Entertaining as well as informative” – Tony G
In this historical novel, Billy Old and Jeff Kidder were Arizona Rangers at the turn of the twentieth century and best friends.
In 1908, while acting in the line of duty, Kidder was murdered by five crooked Mexican policemen. No charges were filed against his killers. They were quietly skirted away to various locations throughout the county of Sonora, Mexico, a vast, desolate area covering nearly twenty thousand square miles.
In 1909, shady politics in the Territory of Arizona brought about the disbanding of the Rangers, leaving many to drift into obscurity and some into degradation. In that same year Billy Old vanished into Sonora to find and kill the men responsible for his friend’s death. He returned close to two years later with that deed accomplished. During Billy’s search of hundreds of sleazy Sonora whorehouses and cantinas he experiences many exciting, humorous, and tragic encounters. There’s a bloody and deadly confrontation with four scalp hunters; a mystical meeting with an old, dying Hopi Indian; an attack by the legendary ”Red Ghost” of the southwest; a sorrowful meeting with a past fellow Ranger; cannibal Indians from East Texas; renegade Apaches; flushing toilets; the wonders of ether; Dancing Devils–fifty-foot high swirling dust funnels that can blind an animal; and a whore named Abbie Crutchfield who proves vital to Billy’s quest. And then there’s his horse Orion and a mule named Captain, all a part of a critically changing time in the American Southwest.
The book includes Historical Background and Readers Guide.
“When you don’t know how much is fact and how much is padding but you don’t care because you just want to know what happens, that’s a good story” – Kim
Geff Moyer is a retired high school theater and creative writing instructor and published novelist and playwright.
His first novel – Billy Old, Arizona Ranger – was published by Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, NM, July 2016. It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, and ebooks, and reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads.
His twenty-seven play scripts are published with six houses (Heuer, Pioneer, Brooklyn, Playscripts, Big Dog, and Eldridge) and have been produced by hundreds of schools and theaters across the U.S., Canada, Greece, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
La Bandera was hot enough to melt a lizard’s toenails. Piss in the dirt and it would suck it up before it could make mud. It felt like August, but was probably March. Maybe still February. The street was empty. That was good. No bystanders. He figured it might be Sunday. Since there was no whorehouse in sight he knew the cantina played double duty, like so many others he had searched. That was good, too – less walking. Every time his boot heel struck ground a shard of pain would whip through his jaw. The toothache that had been making unwelcome social calls for many moons had finally become a full-fledged squatter.
He had no idea of how many of these pestholes he’d dirtied his boots in. His fifth grade education wouldn’t let him count that high. The towns, barrios, villages and grottos had all become a blur of baked adobes waiting to see which one would be the first to cry tio and knuckle under to the dead Senora earth. Their only differences were the size of the bone orchards and the amount of dog shit in the streets.
The sombrero he had donned a few weeks earlier felt like he was balancing a platter of beer mugs on his skull. The Serape was a heavy, itchy burden that made him sweat and stink all the more, but did provide a soft landing for the critters that lost their grip and nose-dived from his beard and shoulder-length hair. Staring at the bleached and racked outside walls of the cantina he knew how its guts would look. A bar would rest a few feet from the back wall. Most times it was simply a few boards ripped from a dying neighbor and stretched across two large, empty barrels that still reeked of rancid rain water. A handful of small tables would be scattered about, each covered in a layer of dust deep enough for a fellow to write his name. Providing anyone in there could write. The only unknown was how many other hombres might be hanging around and if any of them would prove to be a problem.
He hitched Orion by a trough of scum covered water. Not pleased, the testy horse snorted and spewed a glob of snot onto the dry ground.
“Quit bitchin’!” Billy groused at the black stallion with the white star on its forehead. “It’s wet, ain’t it?”
This prickly banter between man and mount dated back to 1905, when both were part of the disbanded Arizona Rangers. The two had just traveled one-hundred-and-sixty miles southeast from Pedro Conde, very deep into Sonora, deeper than his plan ever intended on taking them. Close to two back-breaking-sore-ass weeks were spent getting to this pus-bucket of a town, costing him the majority of his supplies. He sucked in a mouthful of mescal from his flask, blanketed it around the angry tooth, then spat it onto the ground and watched the dirt inhale it with a wink and a thank you.
Like countless times before, his former captain’s warning rattled through his head: “Only a fool goes into a hostile place ‘lone.” He wondered if his close friend and fellow Ranger Jeff Kidder had heard those words before he stepped into Lucheia’s cantina in Naco, Mexico two years ago. Was he nervous as he waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark room?
“No!” Billy whispered. He knew Jeff was too fast to be nervous – smart to be foolish. After all, he was the one with the brains.
“Knowin’ yer surroundin’s,” bellowed Captain Harry Wheeler, “that’s an advantage! A hidden belly or boot gun, an advantage! Shotgun, advantage! When in doubt, shoot first! Ain’t nothun wrong with none of ’em things. It ain’t cheatin’. It ain’t bein’ a shitwad. It’s bein’ smart. God knows ’em shit buckets yer goin’ up agin will have no misgivin’s ’bout takin’ advantage of you.”
He pulled the Smith & Wesson from its holster and slid a round into the one empty chamber that rested under its firing pin then returned it to its home. Next, he released the thin leather strap that secured a Colt Model 1905 .45 caliber with a seven-round clip in a shoulder holster tucked under his left arm. It was a weapon he had picked up during his Rough Rider days and had come to appreciate for its penetrating prowess. Reaching around to the small of his back he gave the bowie knife a slight tilt to the right so its handle was prpooed for fast freedom. Years ago a breed gaught him the Comanche way of knife fighting. Staying balanced and calm was the key, because panic in a blade fight would get a fellow gutted quicker than shit through a goose. He scooped up a handful of dirt and rubbed it around to best the sweat on his palms.
“Sorry, Cap’n!” he repeated for an untold time, closed his eyes, and stepped into the dark cantina.
“Very well written. Interesting, well developed characters. Loved their dialog as well as their “lingo”. Learned lots about the bygone era of the “old west”. Very well researched by the author.” – Aldrew L. Scott